Do you cringe at the idea of taking your toddler to the dentist for the first time? Maybe your child is scared of new situations or you just worry that first experience will be a bad one and he will then be scared to go to the dentist for the rest of his life. Whatever your concerns, helping your toddler’s first dentist visit go well is a matter of planning ahead and knowing how to calm the storm if it arrives.
Read Books Before the Big Day
A few weeks before your toddler’s first visit to the dentist, read books about the topic to your child to begin preparing her for what to expect. A few excellent books for helping your toddler’s first dentist visit go well are:
· The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist: This book features a family of bears and is a series that children will readily recognize. The detailed drawings are perfect for young children to see the process of going to the dentist and the text helps with fears.
· Elmo Visits the Dentist: Elmo is a lovable, fuzzy, red Sesame Street character that children can relate to. The words in this book are simple and to the point. In this book, Elmo goes with the Big Bad Wolf to the dentist and explains everything that is happening.
· Just Going to the Dentist: This Mercer Meyer book features the lovable Little Critter character and talks about his first trip to the dentist. It is a good book to prepare children for what to expect.
Explain What Will Happen
Take the time to explain to your toddler in terms he will understand what will happen at the dentist. For example: “You are going to go to the dentist and he will look at your teeth and rub a tickly thing with toothpaste over them.”
You may want to break up the different steps and share with your child here and there leading up to the big day. Make sure you focus on the experience as positive and fun. For example, you could take sunglasses and tell the child that the dentist has to use a bright light to see his teeth but it is a lot of fun because he’ll get to wear sunglasses like he is at the beach.
Play dentist with your toddler. Have him lie back on a couch and look at his teeth. Then, brush his teeth. Let him do the same to you and pretend like he is the dentist. Role playing is an excellent way for children to learn and will prepare your child for what to expect.
Let the Dentist Take Command
When a parent sees her little one scared, it is a natural instinct to step in and take over the situation. However, try to let the dentist do his job. Dentists are trained to deal with frightened patients and often have tricks that can help put a scared toddler at ease. Resist the urge to take over the situation and instead let the dentist take charge and follow his prompts.
Let Dentistry on 7’s team assess your toddler’s needs and make his first visit to the dentist a positive one he’ll want to repeat.